Dallas Cowboys Mailbag: Doug Free, Alan Ball, Cowboys' Draft

Jonathan BalesAnalyst IApril 12, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 14:  Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform during the NBA All-Star Game, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at Cowboys Stadium on February 14, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Q:  Who do you think will be the Cowboys’ opening day starters at left tackle and free safety?  We didn’t really cut Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin for Doug Free and Alan Ball, did we?

Ryan Warren, Washington, D.C.

A: If pressed to answer today, we would say the Cowboys’ opening day left tackle starter will be Doug Free, but the starting free safety is not yet on the roster. The Cowboys apparently love what they have in Free and are unconcerned about his transition to left tackle.  He is extremely athletic and should at least be an upgrade in pass protection (we gave Adams a ‘D+’ in pass protection in 2009 ).

At safety, we simply cannot see the team starting either Alan Ball or Michael Hamlin.  Ball played decent last season against the pass, but was atrocious against the run (we gave him a ‘C+’ overall grade ).  The organization really likes the potential of the “new Hamlin,” but he is, of course, an unproven commodity. If the Cowboys don’t add a free safety, Ball and Hamlin will battle in camp for the starting job.

The Cowboys will probably select a free safety in the early rounds of this year’s draft.  The problem is that the top-tier guys at the position will be gone by the Cowboys’ 27th overall selection, so they will likely have to settle on a player like USF’s Nate Allen or Georgia Tech’s Morgan Burnett .  Are these players immediate upgrades over Ball and Hamlin?  We may soon find out.

So, our final answer:  starting left tackle–Doug Free, starting free safety–a rookie.


Q:  I heard you guys have a free Mock Draft Challenge.  Where is that?  How do I sign up?

Charles Franklin via Twitter

A: No sign up necessary.  Simply follow this link , read the rules, and submit your Mock Draft in the comments section.  The winner receives a Cowboys mini-helmet signed by Tony Romo.

To view the rest of the Dallas Cowboys Times Mailbag questions, visit DallasCowboysTimes.com .